I'm a London pedestrian, London Cyclist and London motorist... Due to the recent deaths of six cyclists in two weeks I have felt it necessary to write this letter. I'm not proposing I have the answer on how to bubble wrap our roads to make it safer for all, or to take side of any user, from the frustration of red light runners, puller outers, engineer revvers or finger flippers.
What I do know is that none of us want this. Nobody wants to deal with the death of someone, just on their way to work, on their hands. These events presented in the paper each morning on our commute are real life. These people are relatives, friends, parents, children of someone. The people involved in the accidents have to live with this for the rest of their lives, forever doubting, forever wondering if something they did, or could of done could've prevented it. The officers and paramedics who arrive on the scene and have to treat, and battle in vain to help in whatever way they can.
Regrettably accidents will always happen, but something that can change right now, as of today... and that is our attitude to each other on the road.
Rather than this incessant mentality of us versus them, let us stop and appreciate that we're all trying to make our way around London. Yes undoubtedly we must all start to adhere to the rules of the road, from running lights, U turning into each other, to stepping out whilst texting a mate, we can all do better to earn the respect of each other on the road. Let's get some perspective, we're not looking at a bike, or a car... but a person!
The fact remains that our roads have changed, and in my six years of living London it is easily evident to take note of the uprise of the cyclist. Blame this on Boris, blame this on rising tube fares, or blame it on the Olympic effect that we all set out with the passion to strive to be the next Chris Hoy.... We can't pretend that motorists are the sole users of the road anymore.
Whilst the powers that be work to find a resolution and solution to preventing these tragic deaths from becoming a too common read in the papers, and a quick google will show the many opinions and possible options - let's start right now on changing the warring attitude that all road users are the enemy and take a moment that next time you rev your engine, weave down the side at the car or rage into a storm of words to make a sailor weep...
Nobody wants to be dealing with a situation where our actions and decisions result in a gold plaque at the side of the roads.
Riding home in the dark is stupid and dangerous, so I decided, taking a deep breath that I would just have to stump up the money and get new batteries for all my bike lights... that had all seemingly stopped at the same time.
I asked around at work if anyone knew of anywhere cheap in Central London I could pop out to get the four 3 volt batteries I need.
I was told to visit the watch man at Piccadilly Station. Without thinking about it I set off just down the road from work. Sure enough in a tiny cupboard... literally a door a man was working away with an eye piece on what looked like a very expensive watch. The queue was three deep and I dutifully joined.
Waiting patiently it had become clear that the others in the queue were repeat bookings and everyone had visited this man in a doorway before.
My turn and I told the guy what I needed.
Me: I just need four 3V Batteries for my bike lights
Man: Ooooooh do you now, Lets see if we can sort you out then
He popped my battery on the reader
Man: Dead, you see? Right how many do you need?
Me: Four Please
Man: Four? bladdy 'ell you might aswell buy the shop! Right 26... 26...
Me: Thats £26 pound?
Man: 'ang on 'ang on, right just call it £10
Me: Ah, I only have £8 do you take card?
Man: Of course I dont fecking take card!! Take them (batteries) and pay next time yer passin
Me: Well I have the £8
Man: Take 'em and pay next time you pay buy
Me: Are you sure?
Man: I don't want your fecking money, take them away.
I laughed and couldn't quite believe that in London especially someone could be so trusting. Naturally I went to the first cashpoint withdrew ten and ran back down to the kiosk.
Man: I told you to pay next time you passed
Me: Well I'm passing now, thanks very much!!
We both laughed and then I left.
Seriously, people like that make this world so much better, and I can guarantee now that my lights will always be powered by the man at Piccadilly.
What is even more amazing, if you type in "watch man at Piccadilly" there are many more accounts of this type by many other bloggers!
After an interesting journey to Hampton Court palace... cancelled trains, taxi journeys with kind ladies who paid for it on her work expenses, and a walk across a bridge in a mustard coloured coat... we arrived to a dark and historically haunting sight of Hampton Court. Closed off to the public and the majority of the windows in darkness we are taken through a small door at the side of this epic building.
The building was eerily quite and very dark as only a few corridors were dimly lit, but the reason we were here? Upstairs in a room just off from the famous Great Hall we were transported back in time to the days when King Henry the Eight stood to be painted in the portrait that dominates the staircase we climbed to reach the room.
The Palace Voices is a staff choir of the Historical Royal Palaces charity and members from all of their sites including my housemate had been rehearsing for a selection of numbers to celebrate the 400th year of the completion of The King James 1st Bible.
The concert was lovely and to be surrounded by such history listening to music of the time was really quite special and I am very glad I got to experience it in which many will never get to do.
Leaving the building was a bit of a mission in the dark, as we ventured out alone and ending up crossing the silence courtyard in the moonlight, it did all become a little unnerving, but eventually from pressing door after door we found the small side door we were able to vacate from.
I wish I had a staff choir... except it would be a quartet.
November 5th Bonfire night see London, and the entire country set fire to thousands of pounds worth of Fireworks up into the sky!
London which celebrates with several huge displays was busier than usual as the 5th landed on a Saturday and Londoners fled to displays in force.
Usually I would find myself at the free display on Clapham Common but as news spread that they had been cancelled this year... we're in a recession don't you know, the task of finding a display near to us became quite difficult.
Difficult because Battersea is the closest but with a whacking £10 entry price. We did however end up paying and joined thousands of people in the dark!
A little bitter at the ticket price, and a little bit disgusted at the £8 fish and chips price, we huddled together to watch the huge Bonfire catch fire... impressive.
We then were treated to a light and pyrotechnic show, before the main display took the stage. All set to a soundtrack of fire inspired tunes the display had us all ooooing and ahhhhing and in my case dancing away in the dark.
The bitter feeling of paying such an amount faded as we all enjoyed the display and realised that councils do have better causes to put their money into and that we should pay to see a display however for a family of four shelling out £40 to look into the sky is a lot of money for the times!
Generally I could recommend this display... but take your own food and drink!
In the same night Sloane Square switched on their Christmas Lights and despite my feelings of it all being a little premature, I stand by my thoughts that Kings Road has the best Christmas Lights in London, classy, and genuinely give you that Christmassy feeling.
It's hard to believe that The Big Easy on Kings Road has only been around for twenty years, but thats probably because I don't like to believe things are younger than me!
But in truth the BBQ house has been serving up enormous portions to the people who flock to Chelsea to experience their fayre for twenty years!
To celebrate they rolled back the clock to 1991 when it all began and charged customers on this busy tuesday night prices of the year. 1991 couldn't be much cheaper then now right?
Well apparently so, Margheritas were poured at the table at just 95p a glass... needless to say these were consumed excitedly. Also a HUGE rack of ribs, beans and Coleslaw that had my housemate wide eyed and forced both to don crabshack bibs to protect our clothes came in at just £5.95 rather than the £16 advertised price.
Needless to say we ate and drank far too much and all for no more than £15.
It's a shame more places don't revert to this kind of celebration, but it scares me at what the cost of ribs will be in the next twenty years!
Happy Birthday Big Easy... here's to the next stomach filling years!!
Waiting outside the Hammersmith Apollo it was evident that there was a lot of excitement for this gig, partly due to the sheer amount of touts outside trying to buy and sell tickets for prices exceeding £300! I was actually quite gobsmacked at the cash being exchanged for pieces of paper which might not find an owner in time for the first call.
Adele, the 23 year old that has quite literally taken both sides of the Atlantic by storm. Her first Album 19 debuted in the UK charts at No.1 and her success later earned her two Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best New Female, her second album 21 released on the 21st January sold an amazing 208000 copies in the UK in the first week, held the top spot in the charts for a staggering 16 weeks and has already been recorded as going ten times platinum... The album has also been number 1 in 17 countries.
So she is a big deal, and its therefore none surprising that The Apollo is rammed... packed with people sitting in ever seat, and every stairwell... quite remarkable to have a following of all ages cheering as her sillohuette appears on the curtain.
With all her best numbers, Rolling in the Deep, Chasing Pavements, Rumour Has It and a closing call of Someone Like you, the audience were putty in her hands at the power and sheer brilliance of her voice. The very voice that then has the crowd howling with laughter when she honestly and with thick accent talks openly to us all. Introducing each track with the motive of which "dickhead" caused her to write it, its very difficult not to like this girl and actually be happy for her and all her success. Stopping briefly to alert medics that someone had fainted in the crowd, she was seemingly chuffed that she had hit a new "Rock and Roll" esque high.
You melt, and thats not just the incredible temperature of the room, but the voice quality is something that is simply sensational. The girl has got it all and with a mention of the next album and new work heading our way, you can only hope it holds all the promise that her work has so far.
A really great evening.
I was also asked a few questions before I went in....
To me the names Kian Egan, Shane Filan, Nicky Bryne and Mark Feeily mean little to nothing to me, to one of my friends they have been a part of her life for years.
In fact as the Westlife show at Hampton Court Palace went up Mark Feeily told us all proudly that Westlife had been performing for "Turteen years" and they sang their "turd song" from their new album.
13 years is something quite ridiculous, particularly as the "men" up on stage look no different from the boys that used to be thrown across the bags at Secondary school. I wasn't expecting to know any of the songs, and any sung from their new material made little impact. The audience of mums and dads responded incredibly when hits of Uptown Girl and Flying without wings came on.
A random night with some crazy fans, I didnt pay which makes it all the better, but it was quite enjoyable, and in the setting of Hampton Court Palace, there was something to think about what Henry the Eight would have thought of it all....
Well arguably the festival was in the field opposite and up the road from Hampton Court, but I will allow them to use the palace as a draw to the area.
The festival was relatively small with a few stands, a lot of the usual you would expect at this kind of thing. The difference being the size of the samples here were massive. By 10:30am I had already had alot of cheese and had been given a full size Mai Tai. By 10:40 I was on to Prune wine with various jams and spread.
By 10:45am I was sat in a tent with 6 bottles of beers before me and the guys from Dwink.com were asking us why were we at a beer tasting before 11am. Good question, although I didn't plan the schedule for the festival. I did however by 11:30am feel quite tiddly after laughing heartily at the presentation by Dwink, and consuming no less than 6 bottles of high strength beer.
Later there was more food, followed by a a bit more drink in the form of a mojito and a quick masterclass in making cupcakes by the lady who made Jade Goodies wedding cake.
All in all, the day was good, great company and a cheap entrance ticket helped by this. I am unsure however why anyone would buy a ticket for all three days, as there just wasnt enough to keep you there longer than four hours.
Nice Bank holiday activity all the same.... and I do like food.
It's always very difficult when the parents come to visit where to take them for a good sunday dinner. We've all been there when the food isnt up to par, the cost becomes ridiculous, the ambience and service let a place down... then you look over at the rents and you can't help but think they are wondering what on earth they brought into the world.
Well fortunately I have found somewhere that will ensure you still remain the favourite sibling (joke)
Just down at the beginning of New Kings Road in Chelsea/Fulham way, The Hand and Flower provides easy atmosphere a well decorated bar resturaunt which provides good service at a price worthy of the time we had there.
With a wide range of ales, and ciders on tap with a healthy wine list, you should have seen Dad's face when his bitter arrived in a proper glass tankard. The Sunday roast, either Beef or Lamb was beautifully presented and tasted beyond what a good roast should be. The food ticked all boxes, good big yorkshire pudding (very important when your family are from York), good crunchy roasts and plenty of meat.
The service was good, and brought good humour for any of the "dad jokes" that could be present.
The bar offers a beautiful beer garden at the rear with flowers climbing up the wooden terrace and all in all the venue is well presented.
Worth a visit when you have to entertain the parents, or anyone but also great for meeting friends and chilling out with a range of drinks on offer.
The sun shining and a walk along the Thames path in Hammersmith, anyone would agree that The Blue Anchor hits the nail on the head for a perfect location for a spot of lunch and a pint.
Their website boasts "[a] unique, traditional riverside family run pub, offering a warm sociable atmosphere".
I can only assume that the family were on holiday because warm isn't exactly the greeting we got. Not one to have to moan but I really cannot stand poor customer service. Every member behind the bar, who could easily have been nursing hangover by their mood, failed to crack a smile let alone make eye contact. The process of ordering food and a drink seemed to be of great inconvinence to them, aswell as us wanting to order separately. My friend ordered a white wine spritzer with soda, and was presented with a white wine with lemonade, and a glass of soda on the side. Asking to change the drink for her order a white wine spritzer with soda, resulted in the staff having a "bitch" at how odd it was to have soda instead of lemonade.
Moving outside, the area is perfect for kicking back, a girl was fortunate to have friends who had bought her the most beautiful bike, were celebrating at the table next to us.
Our food then appeared, after a lap round the Thames path in search for people who had ordered food. Referring back to their website "the food menu is interesting and appetizing"
What is interesting about the food is that a Chicken BLT, should not consist of coronation chicken sandwich mix! Set on a chewy ciabatta bread with chips that had been fried within an inch of their life, every single one crispy with a distinct lack of potato.
My friend ordering a Steak sandwich admitted defeat when it was clearly obvious the meat was dry and unbelievably chewy.
It would seem a great shame that a venue with such a fantastic location could fall on so many levels.... but increasingly I find that places in London fail to even attempt any level of customer services.
Avoid this place and walk a little further to The Dove
Twitter is very much a marmite sort of thing between my friends. I have friends who absolutely love it and others who just don't.
I set up my account dutifully over two years ago but have only been using it for six months and have been snared by the Twitter Whale and frequently tweet! What I like about it is the ease of finding out information, and now with a healthy network of people, particularly in my industry I can converse in conversation about work, theatre, or bitch about someone's new photo.
But for the many 140 characters people tweet this is where it stops...
This is where Luke Murphy and Laura Tosney pushed forward to get these people from behind their computers and iphones and into a pub to meet each other.
Aptly and cleverly named Twespians this allows people of all walks of the theatrical background... producers, reviewers, actors, managers, marketers... or just those with a great passion for the arts, to meet in person.
Now it maybe true that nerves got the better of me and the first time I had had a bit of wine before I arrived on an empty stomach! BUT the event is a brilliant idea and on my second visit this week, I have been able to start making some great connections.
Most of all, the event always has a great atmosphere and I shall be looking forward to the next.... even if I am the token ginge.
The Worlds End Distillery building stands proud between the Worlds End Nuseries and The Chelsea theatre, SW3. The beautifully ornate building has lay empty for the past two years of me living 4 minutes away, apart from the time when a random lady set up a cash only bar to watch the World Cup... they closed moments after England were kicked out.
Well finally someone has opened up shop with not one, not two but THREE spaces to enjoy good food and wine.
Split over three levels the ground floor is called Scene with an open hatch kitchen dominating the back wall set out like a 50s American Diner, the table tops have a nice black surface with specs of glitter and above the hatch is a massive cinema style billboard, not too disimiliar to that on the front of the Chelsea Curzon.
The first floor is The Summerhouse which is a completely different set up and you'd be forgiven for forgetting where you were. Set out with a pebble floor the decor has a wonderful fresh decor beach hut feel. Blues, whites and yellows literally make you forget that just down the flight of stairs theres an american diner.
This floor also benefits from having a little private oasis with an outdoor terrace over looking the Chelsea Nurseries.
The basement holds the wine bar "The Cellar", I was unable to explore as it is yet to open but I am told it will be ready in a couple of weeks... if its decked out to the standard of the other two floors we're in for a treat... I just want to know what theme it will be!!
So tonight we ate at scene... a menu full of American cuisine but I am glad to say a far cry from the "junk food" you might expect... bear with me. The girls opted for the Chicken taco salad which came in large taco bowls pilled high with chicken, leaves, beans, peppers- a treat to look at before you start.
I opted for a twist on what you would deem perhaps an odd choice... A chicken Cobb Salad... BURGER! When it arrived you knew that the food was fresh and put together with care and style- we weren't disappointed.
We were all in agreement that the food had taste, and flavour, in that you could actually pick out different flavours, this may be an odd thing to say but how many Burgers/Salads/Meals have you had when the food is bland, uninteresting or samey or leaves the dreaded "I feel fat" taste in your mouth.
Polishing down the hearty portions discussion moved to price. I personally, although on the high side, and perhaps disillusion with the cost of living in London thought that in comparison to other meals I have had on Kings Road this was worth the cost. Henry J Beans for example who claim they serve the best burgers in Chelsea, for two pounds more you can have a burger worth talking about... fresh, flavoursome and tasty!
However as quick as the discussion came up about money... we were informed there was a 50% discount for the first two weeks of business!
I am now booked into the resturant upstairs (The Summerhouse) next week to take advantage of their kind offer.
Well worth checking out, I hope the cost to put the place together pays off, it deserves to on renovating such an iconic building in the area.
First of all I took a midweek day off from work, I have never done that before and actually as I sat this morning at my desk trying to get over the confusion that today is not Monday, it is likely that I never will again.
Second of all, on the spur of the moment with this new found time off, encouraged by my flatmate we decided to venture to London Zoo.
The worry of not taking a child to accompany us during a visit during the Easter holiday was quickly dispelled when it became apparent that the Zoo simply just wasn't as busy as I had imagined, far from it infact which is odd for a place that boasts it being the Number one Tourist attraction in London 2010.
Greeted at the gate by a very enthusiastic lady, she spoke to me as if I was just 6 years old and finding the ability to hold a conversation for the first time, I found myself completely, uncontrollably excited to respond to her questions.
"I'm here to see the Penguins"
My over excited response came, I caught the eye of my flatmate who too seemed equally surprised that this passion of penguin sight seeing had just blurted out of my mouth. The cheery disposition of the woman before me then creased her face into what seemed like a tight not, only to inform me that the Penguins had been relocated to Whipsnade as they were building a new "Penguin Beach Resort" for them.
Trying not show my disappointment and continue my 6 year persona... I had urges to throw myself on the floor and kick my feet, we were then told that four maybe around in the "African Bird house".
There were SIX penguins in the African Bird house and I can safely say I have never seen six more utterly confused birds in my life. Sat on a beach amidst palm trees and tropical plants you could kind of sense they were wondering where the hell they were or more importantly where the other 153 mates and family members were.
Having seen the old pool it is safe to say it'll be an improvement of a million percent, but I did find their temporary home, and the fact 153 penguins went up the motorway recently to be really quite amusing.
I don't know who was more confused by the matter, me or penguins.
With the sun shining brightly through my window in the office on Regent Street, you can't help but be a little jealous of those who are outside.... particularly when your facing away from the window and can feel the heat on the back of your neck.
So whats this? Another blog, someone else wanting to put their thoughts and ideas out into the cyber world of the web???
I'm not here on a crusade to change the world, and I don't expect my opinion to be revolutionary or indeed reinvent any process I may discuss. This is merely a platform, a mini piece of property in that big wild webspace thats mine.
My ideas, my thoughts, mine for discussion.
It might be a lonely space... or it might just turn out to be over populated.